My Favorite Movies From 2016

My Favorite Movies From 2016

After getting arrested the day after Christmas, I’ve spent a lot of time laying low and avoiding arrest. I know it’s inevitable, but I’m not in any rush to be locked up in some awful cell full of cackling broads who never shut up.

Since my car ended up stranded down at the coast where my parents live for the first couple months of the year, I basically spent most of that time sleeping and watching movies.

I even managed to make myself get up and go to the theater a few times.

I don’t know if it was just me, but it sure seemed like 2016 was a good year for movies. Rather than writing an entire blog post for each of my favorites, I decided to just compile a short list of my top picks of the year.

Hidden Figures

I tend to fall instantly in love with movies about strong women who overcome huge obstacles and adversity on their quests to accomplish great things.

Which is why Million Dollar Baby is one of my absolute all time favorite movies.

We often see the stories of men and their achievements made into films, and I’m glad to see that more are now being made to tell the equally as amazing stories of women throughout history as well.

Hidden Figures introduced me to three very special women who I knew almost nothing about before going to see it in the theater.

I feel like it portrayed their struggles as female pioneers in the field of science in a very real and down-to-earth way. It managed to effectively capture just how challenging it is to be the smartest person in the room who also happens to be female.

Don’t shrug this off or dismiss it just because you are a guy, either.

Often their battles are fought in silence, they know that they are fortunate to have made it as far as they have at NASA and they don’t want to push their luck.

I also have a soft spot for stories about marginalized groups of people, and I was glad to see the theater as packed as it was for the showing I attended.

Don’t shrug this off or dismiss it just because you are a guy, either.

This is an important film for everyone to see.

In fact, Kevin Costner’s performance offers a very inspiring example of how to stand up for women in the workplace and become an advocate of feminism and equality.

Hacksaw Ridge

When I hear the term “conscientious objector,” I think of men who opposed war and resisted the draft during Vietnam.

It’s a concept I can relate to, as I would feel the same way.

However, I never would have guessed that any of these men would have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

How the hell does that happen?

Typically speaking, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a big fan of war movies.

However, I suppose it makes sense that I thoroughly loved Hacksaw Ridge considering that Mel Gibson directed one of my other favorite movies about war.

Braveheart, of course.

But Hacksaw Ridge is better, in my opinion.

Yes, it’s about the Vietnam War and to say it includes a lot of violence would be an understatement.

Anyone who has seen Gibson’s Passion of the Christ will already understand the level of physical brutality that can be expected.

But this true story of a man who went to war as a medic and without so much as a gun to protect himself from the enemy, was deeply moving.

Particularly since he is greeted by animosity at every turn throughout his journey. Not just from the enemy, but more often from his own side.

Nevertheless, he is determined to avoid compromising his beliefs and seems driven by an unshakable kind of faith that makes me almost envious.

Zootopia

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch Zootopia. I hadn’t heard much about it, just knew there was a lot of buzz surrounding it.

But that’s typical for anything Disney, right?

For the record, I’m a hardcore Disney fan and I have been since I was a kid.

But make no mistake! Zootopia is JUST as much for adults as it is for children, in my opinion.

Not only did it turn me into a creepy weirdo who now has a huge crush on a fucking animated fox, but it made me laugh more than any movie has in a long time too.

Zootopia is JUST as much for adults as it is for children

Would you believe me if I told you a Disney movie includes a blatant reference to Breaking Bad?

Yeah, I would have called bullshit on that too.

But we would have been wrong!

If you are like me, then you’re probably a compassionate person who cares about equality and social progress.

But maybe you shake your head a bit over college kids who are offended by every joke they hear and hide in “safe spaces” to avoid the real world.

If so, you will LOVE Zootopia.

It mocks the level of insanity we’ve reached in modern society perfectly while cleverly weaving it into something safe for all ages.

Deadpool

I also wouldn’t necessarily call myself a big fan of movies based on comic books. Which makes sense, since I was never a fan of comic books themselves!

But there is the rare exception when it comes to movies.

I liked the very first X-Men movie. Of course, that seems like it was a fucking long time ago now. Because I guess it was.

Since then, there have been so many of them that it feels like things are just getting stupid, at least to me.

Add him to my list of fictional crushes before I forget, please.

Aaaand then I watched Deadpool.

While comic book movies aren’t usually my favorite, I’m a sucker for anything with good action.

In fact, good action combined with a compelling revenge story is my absolute favorite.

This is why Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 are among my all time favorites.

So as soon as Ryan Reynold’s started talking in the opening scene of Deadpool, I was sold.

Add him to my list of fictional crushes before I forget, please.

I guess it’s probably his manic, fast-paced and profanity-laden style of narrating the story. Or perhaps his consistent sarcasm and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Then again, it might have been how secure he seems when it comes to his sexuality…and by that, I mean how ambiguous it manages to remain.

Okay, so it’s EVERYTHING about him that I loved.

Yeah, that’s what I meant.

Manchester by the Sea

All I can say is “WOW!”

I saved Manchester by the Sea for the end of this list, since it may very well be my favorite of the bunch.

This might be the closest thing to the male equivalent of your standard “chick flick” drama. You know, sort of like a Terms of Endearment for dudes (but a much better movie, in my opinion).

I have to say, the first half of the movie is kind of surreal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that captures the awkwardness of everday life the way this one does.

Not to mention, I can’t remember the last time I laughed AND cried so much within the same two hours, while watching movies or doing anything else.

This movie deals with a lot of tough situations and you’ll want to have a box of Kleenex nearby, trust me.

I think it’s safe to say that this role will be the one Casey Affleck is remembered for. And for good reason.

So which movies from 2016 are your favorites? Which ones do I need to watch that I haven’t seen yet? Share in the comments.

5 Reasons Why I Love Gone With the Wind

Artwork Credit: glimmeringlight.deviantart.com

Gone With the Wind is one of my all time favorite movies.

If you have NOT seen it, stop reading now and go watch it immediately. It’s just under 4 hours long, so be sure to get comfortable before you start it!

Should you fail to watch the film in its entirety before continuing to read this post, I’m afraid I can’t be friends with you anymore.

Don’t you want to be my friend?!

Good! Then watch the damn movie.

Scarlett Fever

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlett O’Hara, where do I even begin?

I can safely say that she is EVERYTHING about all women that makes us unbearable. Maddening.

Therefore, she is simultaneously ALL the things which make us irresistible as well.

  • She is loud and full of high energy.
  • She is used to getting everything she wants with little effort.
  • She won’t hesitate to throw an outright tantrum when denied.
  • She is gorgeous and fully aware of the leeway this gives her.
  • She flirts with ALL men, no exceptions.
  • She is 100% shameless.

Like the rest of us human beings, she quickly begins to take for granted that which comes too easily and too often.

In spite of the endless line of young men competing for her attention, it seems that only Ashley Wilkes has (unwittingly) discovered the secret to capturing it.

He remains aloof and immune to her charm.

Like countless other women before her (whether they’ll admit it or not), she only seems to want a man who she cannot have.

A forbidden fruit that belongs to someone else.

Although he has no alluring traits, the denial of his affection allows her the time needed to imagine him some kind of hero.

At no point within her delusions does she pause to ask herself if she even likes Ashley Wilkes.

Rhett Makes Me Wet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, along comes the man of ANY woman’s (wet) dreams!

But poor little Scarlett is way too busy distorting reality and being in love with a total douche.

And it’s a damn shame, too.

Because Rhett Butler is the FULL MEAL DEAL.

About thirty seconds into their first encounter, he calls her out as the snotty-nosed brat she is and then shrugs it all off.

He’s in no rush, after all.

He figures Scarlett might just turn out to be a fun time, once she grows the fuck up and gets over her little grade school crush.

“With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.”

In the meantime, Rhett wanders off on his own adventures in life to pass the time. Among his better friends is a prostitute named Belle who keeps him company from time to time.

Scarlett makes the mistake of insulting Belle, to which Rhett responds with one of his sexiest lines ever:

“If you were a man, I’d break your neck for that.”

And then FINALLY, after years of bullshit games…they get together.

He buys her a giant engagement rock, she gives him a daughter and they move into an extravagant mansion.

He gives her everything.

Except for Ashley Wilkes.

By the end of the movie, these two have suffered major tragedies, both independently and as a couple.

But rather than see them come together, it only works to further drive them apart.

Just as it seems to often happen in real life, Scarlett’s moment of clarity comes too late.

More Than a (Fucked Up) “Love Story”

I’m sure you didn’t get very far into that before writing this off as a ‘chick flick.’

Make no mistake – this is more than 4 straight hours of sappy love story.

It’s a period film set in 1860’s America, from the perspective of the defeated South in a war that marked the end of slavery.

It is a dramatic masterpiece.

It’s the quintessential historical fiction.

Never Gets Old

I can only hope to age as gracefully as Gone With the Wind has.

Filmed over seventy years ago, it somehow manages to never feel dated or seem cheesy when I watch it.

Once I travel back in time 35 years or more, most movies have an understandably ‘awkward‘ feel to them.

I’m sure this is due to a disconnect between styles that were common then, and just seem silly to me now.

Gone With the Wind is truly a timeless classic.

Shit Gets *REAL*

For anyone who doesn’t know, this story takes place in the Southern United States around the beginning of the American Civil War.

Scarlett’s spoiled childhood comes to an abrupt halt as she watches her family lose everything.

We watch as she endures all the hardships that come with war — starvation, poverty, destruction and disease. For her, the fall of the Confederacy means losing her home and loved ones.

Alas, she astonishes us all with her ability to adapt to whatever new situation she finds herself in.

Ultimately, Gone With the Wind is a tale of survival and indestructible human will.

“As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!”

Stop Feeling Ashamed and Let it Go

So, before we get started a word of advice to any poor souls that have somehow managed to avoid seeing Disney’s Frozen thus far: GO WATCH IT NOW!

And by advice, I mean it is a non-negotiable requirement that you go watch it immediately.

Stop reading this and go watch the fucking movie or I can’t be friends with you anymore, I’m sorry.

I like you. I want us to be friends.

So please go watch it and you can thank me later.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way…

Why Elsa is Awesome

let it go

Okay, so I get it that Anna is an important character in this story too and everything because she’s all supportive of her sister and willing to help or whatever.

Side note to anyone not familiar with the real world: this usually doesn’t happen.

Most of the time, you won’t have the support of family or friends when it comes to being the person you truly want to be. If you DO, consider yourself very lucky.

However, most of us will not have an Anna or her calm understanding and acceptance of whatever sets us apart from other people in general. So it’s best not to plan for it.

But in my opinion, Elsa is the interesting and significant one in this fairy tale.

Right from birth, she is not like other people because she has magical powers that she struggles to conceal and control until all hell freezes over.

😉

Concerned about the potential dangers associated with having said powers, her parents encourage her to hide the magic and try to help her get a handle on things so she doesn’t accidentally start the next ice age.

But what I love about Elsa is that she represents everyone who is somehow different than those around them.

The ice magic is just a symbolic place holder for any label describing a marginalized group of people.

Maybe it’s her sexuality. Or a drug addiction. Her chosen lifestyle.

Doesn’t matter. It is all of these things and more.

What matters here is that there is something about her that others fear, fail to understand and shun because it is unfamiliar.

No Victims Here

Also important to note is that Elsa is NOT a victim in this story.

She isn’t some perfect saint that is being persecuted for no good reason by a kingdom full of lunatics.

On the contrary, her powers prove greater than even she had ever realized and the consequences are drastic.

She doesn’t know how to fully control the magical powers that seem so strongly bound to her volatile emotions.

Sometimes she accomplishes what she wants with them, but at others she is at their mercy and along for the ride.

When Anna visits her in the ice castle and tries to reassure her that everything will be okay and offers her support, Elsa tells her to go away and stay away for her own safety.

More than once, she accidentally allows her emotions to overcome her and the resulting magic puts her sister in danger.

She’s not a saint, nor is she perfect.

She is more complicated than most fairy tale heroins and even most villains too.

Let it Go is Fucking Epic

 

And I do mean E.P.I.C.

If you thought Ariel made you want to be Part of That World, think again.

If Cinderella thought she had schooled you on how A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, she’ll be beating herself like a red-headed stepsister here soon.

If you don’t believe me, you can even ask Pocahontas if all those Colors of the Wind are still looking as bright and bold?

 

This song is pure self-empowerment and requires a lung capacity I will never fucking have, sadly.

It’s about celebrating yourself and accepting who you are.

It’s also about saying “fuck off” to everyone who doesn’t “get you.”

It’s about coming to appreciate and enjoy your solitude.

It’s about reinventing yourself, starting over from scratch.

Just fucking listen to the damn song and for fuck’s sake, watch the fucking movie please before I have to break up with you forever.

 

3 Movies About Prostitution

I decided it would be a good idea to seek out some movies about prostitution, to see how far off the mainstream portrayal truly is.

I am not including Pretty Woman in this list because it is too well-known and honestly, it’s kind of just a big insult to legitimate sex workers because it’s not about them — it’s more accurately about some middle aged man who is suffering from a serious case of “White Knight Syndrome,” which is hardly very interesting.

Mighty Aphrodite

movies about prostitution

Back when I was a teen, my best friend was a huge fan of Woody Allen.

I remember having to sit through Annie Hall and it was a struggle not to fall asleep.

As you may have guessed, this one is directed by and stars Woody Allen. However, unlike the other films he has directed, I felt this one was at least tolerable.

One thing I’ve noticed about all the movies by him is that all the actors look like real, everyday people. Even though they are famous!

For example, Helena Bonham Carter plays Allen’s wife in this movie and yet she manages to look like an actual person. A real, live person who you could pass on the sidewalk.

Anyhow…while the move IS pretty funny, the whole “ditzy hooker” act became a little played out by the end.

While Mira Sorvino’s character is certainly outspoken and full of zest, she’s also kinda stupid. She plays a woman named Linda Ash, who works as both a prostitute and an actress in various pornographic films.

I was particularly fond of the scene where Woody Allen’s character meets her for the first time at her apartment. I like how when he starts to pry too much and get too personal for her liking, she quickly begins to steer the conversation in a sexual direction as a matter of getting shit done.

She is under the impression that he is there as a new client of hers, so this makes a lot of sense.

When he continues to badger her about her life choices and question the value of acting in porn films, she has had enough of his shit and she loudly and very firmly escorts him right the fuck out of her apartment after returning the couple hundred dollars he has paid for her time.

That’s exactly how I would respond to someone who came at me the way his character did in that scene, so that was pretty cool.

It was really disappointing to find out like over halfway into the film that Linda has a pimp who apparently has threatened, in rather vulgar terms, to hideously kill her and Allen’s character as well, for the influence he thinks he has over her.

She goes to Allen pleading for his help and asking him to please speak with this crazy whack job of a pimp loser because she is scared for her safety.

First of all, if some psychotic pimp is threatening to kill both of them…then my money is seriously on Sorvino as far as who would put up a better fight against the ass clown.

Why she turns to Woody fucking Allen for help and protection is beyond me, but whatever!

The Client List

movies about prostitution

I was actually pretty surprised when I found out this was a Lifetime movie, since those usually fucking suck!

That’s not to say, however, that this film was anything spectacular.

It’s my least favorite of these three movies, but I wouldn’t say it was terrible all around.

If I had to sum up the plot of this movie in a single sentence, it would go something like:

“Privileged white suburban mother turns massage parlor prostitute, making huge stacks of cash and saving her family’s home from foreclosure, only to become hooked on uppers and busted by the cops, subsequently ruining her entire fucking life.”

It managed to keep me interested enough to watch the whole thing, but it’s not one I’d revisit or anything.

The scene where she is driving home from her first day at work in the “massage parlor” and she has to pull the car over to vomit is really stupid, dramatic and flat out unrealistic.

I mean, c’mon…

Also, the ending is pretty shitty because she ends up giving up the names of like every single high profile client she has seen in order to reduce her own jail time…

And somehow this is seen as a happy ending where the silly ho learns her lesson and is punished by a husband who can’t look her in the face (probably because she has been the family breadwinner for months and not because he learns about the type of work she’s doing) and all of that good stuff.

I will say that the scene between her and her husband right after he sees her getting arrested on the news DID make me tear up considerably. The whole emotional story about putting his dog to sleep and how he couldn’t handle being in the room, so she did it for him…yeah, that got to me.

But that aside, mediocre film at best.

X: Night of Vengeance

movies about prostitution

While The Client List was kind of bleak and depressing in its own first world kind of way, this one makes it seem like a trip to Disney Land.

X: Night of Vengeance is an Australian film that follows two sex workers who have starkly different realities.

The film opens up with Holly, a higher end prostitute or “call girl” who has been in the business for something like fifteen years and has just bought herself a first class airline ticket to Paris, planning to retire from the sex trade.

After we follow her around for a bit, we switch over to Shay, a seventeen year old runaway who is instead walking the streets to find customers and doesn’t know anyone in the area at all.

While Holly is obviously very experienced and turns out to actually be pretty damn tough, it’s clear that Shay is super vulnerable and has no idea what she is really doing.

While there is a lot of violence in this film, I found it bothersome and somewhat remarkable (sense the sarcasm) that both of these women are able to take several punches right to the nose and face without any swelling afterwards…

Well that’s odd…

On the subject of violence, I have to admit I probably enjoyed some of it more than I should have.

Especially the scene where Holly (played by Viva Bianca) is attacked by some psycho and surprises the hell out of the him (and the audience) by fucking head butting the asshole, giving her the time and advantage she needs to grab a nearby suitcase and bash the shit out of his head with it repeatedly while he is momentarily disarmed by said head butt.

In fact, Holly is by far the most badass of all hookers I’ve seen portrayed in films thus far, which is pretty neat.

I mean, she could have been the chick underneath the pink Power Ranger costume or something.

Anyhow, I was really disappointed that Holly ended up dying and the movie was very depressing and awful on many levels.

However, it did a very effective job of portraying the sharp contrast between street walking prostitutes and “call girl” types.

I actually felt like I could relate to Holly’s character pretty closely in many ways. I don’t have as much experience dealing with the life that we see Shay living, even though fundamentally they are in the same business.

I’d say this was the best of these three films, in my opinion. All three are worth watching once, for sure.

As a side note, apparently it is impossible to direct a movie about hookers that runs longer than 90 minutes since all three of these were almost exactly that long (although X: Night of Vengeance felt much longer to me, because of the intensity).